Convictions in three Black murder cases
July 10, 2008 — Interview
IRR News reports on three recent trials of young White men convicted for their part in the deaths of three Black men.
Tomorrow, 29-year-old Michael Ross will be sentenced for the murder (suspected of being racially motivated) of Shamsuddin Mahmood. Next week, another young man will be sentenced for his part in a murder in which the victim, Tarsen Nahar, was called a ‘n****r’ and just two weeks ago, another 18-year-old was sentenced to serve a minimum of fourteen years for the ‘drink-fuelled, mindless’ murder of 17-year-old student Ahmed Hassan.
Murderer brought to justice after fourteen years
On 20 June 2008, fourteen years after committing a ‘savage, merciless and pointless’ crime, 29-year-old Michael Ross, a soldier, was found guilty of the murder of Bangladeshi waiter Shamsuddin Mahmood in Orkney in 1994. Police, despite extensive enquiries, were unable at the time to find enough evidence to link Ross to the murder. All that was known was that on 2 June 1994, a 15-year-old boy walked into the Mumutaz restaurant in Kirkwall, Orkney and, without speaking a word, shot 26-year-old Shamsuddin Mahmood at close range in the face and then calmly walked out. Orkney police, who could find no motive for the murder, carried out one of their largest investigations in attempts to find the culprit.
Shamsuddin or Shamol as he was known friends had only been working at the island’s only Asian restaurant for seven weeks after visiting the island and being offered a job. He had moved from Southampton, where he had stayed with his brother after arriving from Bangladesh.
Schoolboy Ross was able to evade justice, with the help of his policeman father, Constable Eddie Ross, who withheld information from his colleagues investigating the murder. Michael Ross went on to join the army and became a decorated soldier, guarding the Queen and had completed tours in Northern Ireland and Iraq.
Following the murder, police officers were drafted in from the mainland and every person going in and out of Kirkwall was identified and every house visited. Eddie Ross guarded the murder scene and identified the type of bullet (9mm) used in the shooting. However, he failed to mention that he owned bullets similar to the one used in the shooting – which were highly unusual. Ross was tasked with checking all the 9mm weapons on the island; he concluded that none would be capable of firing the fatal shot. Then, two months after the murder, Eddie Ross approached the senior investigating officer and told him that he owned a box of the bullets of the type which were used in the shooting. He claimed he had only one box, however, James Spence, a former Royal Marine, claimed that he had given Ross two boxes of ammunition.
Michael Ross became the main suspect and a search of his home found a balaclava and a notebook in his bedroom with a swastika and SS symbol on it. But Ross alleged that he was in another part of Orkney when the murder took place. Ross was questioned and released as police did not have enough evidence to charge him.
On 13 March 1995, Eddie Ross was suspended from duty and in May 1997 was found guilty of attempting to pervert the course of justice and sentenced to four years in prison. At his trial, his son was officially named as the main suspect in the murder of Shamsuddin Mahmood.
The case was reopened two years ago after an anonymous letter was handed in to police identifying the killer. The writer was traced and persuaded to give evidence. William Grant said that he had seen Ross in a public toilet with a gun and a balaclava on the night of the murder. He had failed to come forward earlier as he had been scared. A former girlfriend claimed that he had told her had taken a gun from his father’s gun cabinet. Other witnesses came forward to say that prior to the murder they had seen Ross in woods wearing a balaclava carrying out military exercises.
After the six-week trial at Glasgow High Court Ross was found guilty of murder (on a majority verdict) and guilty of trying to defeat justice by disposing of the murder weapon. He will be sentenced on 11 July 2008.
In court the murder was called a ‘cold-blooded assassination’. However the defence argued that the murder could not be the work of a 15-year-old boy. Michael Ross was a sergeant in the army – a sniper in the Black Watch regiment – and inherited his passion for guns from his father (who also served in the army) who gave him a deactivated sub-machine gun as a gift.
But the court was also told how Ross was known for his racist views, and that while an army cadet had been overheard saying ‘Blacks should be shot’. Detective Inspector Iain Smith, Northern Constabulary’s senior investigating officer, commented that ‘in all probability’ the murder was racially motivated.
Sinister killer attempts to escape
As Ross was being led down to the cells after the verdict, he attempted to escape by jumping over the dock and running from the court, but was tackled by a court official and police officers.
After the trial, a car that Ross had hired, but failed to return, was found a few miles from the court in a supermarket car park and police are alleged to have found in it a cache of arms including a machine gun, rifle, grenades, knives, camouflage clothing, bullets and binoculars.
Murder of ‘vulnerable’ man in west London
On 25 June 2008, 18-year-old Daryl O’Connor was found guilty of the murder of 44-year-old Tarsen Nahar in Hayes, west London on 19 May 2007 and of aggravated bodily harm (ABH) on 30 April.
Tarsen Nahar, who was known to his friends as ‘Cookie’ and was a ‘street drinker’, was found injured and dying at the home of a friend. A post mortem found that he had died from a subdural haemorrhage.
The court was told in the first unprovoked attack, O’Connor and his friends had been heard to say ‘We don’t like n*****s in our park’. O’Connor, who was 17-years-old at the time of the murder, is said to have beaten Tarsem to the ground and then kicked him in the head. The gang stole his phone and wallet. Tarsem was able to make his way to a friend’s house where he collapsed. Police told IRR News that the murder was investigated as racially motivated and that O’Connor was initially charged with racially aggravated ABH (as well as murder), however the ‘racially aggravated’ rider was dropped. Two other men were also arrested at the time of the murder but the CPS decided to take no further action. O’Connor is due to be sentenced on 16 July 2008 at the Old Bailey.
After the verdict Detective Inspector Tim Dobson, from the Met’s Homicide and Serious Crime Command said: ‘this was an unprovoked attack on an innocent man. Tarsen Nahar or “Cookie” was well known as one of the ‘street drinkers’ that frequented the area. Mr O’Connor’s actions showed his total disregard for this vulnerable section of the community.’
Young student murdered by drunk
On 22 June 2008, 18-year-old Michael Brook was jailed for a minimum of fourteen years for the murder in Dewsbury on 15 December 2007 of 17-year-old student Ahmed Hassan who was in the second year of his A’ levels and described by his head teacher as ‘a thoughtful and articulate young man who was gentle, kind and sensitive.’
Michael Brook, had forty-four court appearances under his belt, including a conviction for possessing a knife and had only been released from prison three days prior to the murder. He arrived at Dewsbury train station with friend Anthony Sorren, both having been drinking all morning. At the station was Ahmed with two friends waiting to catch a train to Manchester to buy Eid presents. Brook and Sorren, were hassling passengers at the station, Sorren approached Ahmed and his friends and asked them what they were looking at. Ahmed attempting to diffuse the situation asked Sorren for a hug, he became friendly and then as both groups of boys went to catch their train – they began pushing and shoving each other. Sorren threw a punch and Brook stabbed Ahmed. The court was also told that the two young men had alternated between being ‘threatening’ and ‘over familiar’ with passengers.
Brook had initially claimed that Ahmed or his friends had attacked him with a knife first but later retracted this. His defence barrister argued that the attack was not racially motivated but, rather, ‘drink-fuelled, mindless violence with a lethal weapon’. Brook pleaded guilty to murder and murder charges against Sorren were dropped (through lack of evidence) and he admitted affray and was given a four-month detention and training order.
Read the IRR’s Factfile on the Racially Motivated Murders (Known or Suspected) 2000 onwards
Read the IRR’s Factfile on the Racially Motivated Murders (Known or Suspected) 1991-1999
 Both the extreme-right electoral parties, the Freedom Party (FPÖ) and Alliance for the Future of Austria have been campaigning since 2007 for a constitutional amendment to prohibit the construction of mosques and minarets in Austria, and in the BZÖ-controlled state of Carinthia the construction of mosques has been effectively banned. In Vienna, according to the Austrian Times (16 April 2009), the leader of the FPÖ, Heinz-Christian Strache offered his support to a citizen's initiative which was formed to oppose the extension of the Islamic Islamic Cultural Centre in Vienna-Briggitenau on the grounds that the new mosque would spread 'religious indoctrination'. Kulturverein Kanafani, Postfach 143, 1070 Vienna, Austria. Email: email@example.com. Web: www.kanafani.at.
The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.